As movie ready as the Exodus is, it is not the climax of the story. The climax is the covenant that God established with his people beginning at Exodus 19 and following.
I love Judaism and have been influenced and inspired by Jews, Jewish devotion, and the Jewish commitment to “repair of the world” (tikkun olam). I feel sad when I read my own sacred scriptures when Jews and Judaism are caricatured and harshly labeled, depicted as a legalistic and substandard religion. Many Christians to this day think that Judaism is a religion in which one must earn God’s mercy via rigorous observance of laws---something no religion has ever taught, let alone Judaism. Such scriptural language reflects the intense discussion of the first century, concerning the nature of Judaism in light of belief (of some Jews of the time) that Jesus is the Jewish mashiach, or "Messiah".
In Judaism, life with God is guided by Torah. In Deuteronomy, the people are called to remember that God rescued them from Egypt (Deut. 1:30, 4:20 4:34, 4:37, 5:6, 6:12, et al). The basis of many of the mitzvot is the Egyptian experience, for instance:
These reminders are also found in Deuteronomy 16:12, 24:18, and other passages easily found with a concordance.
It may be difficult for us Gentile Christians to study the Torah laws—not originally addressed to us, after all. Some Christians cherry-pick the laws in order to express disapproval of others. We may imagine ourselves as rescued sinners, analogous to the Isrealite slaves, but even that self-recognition may not teach us the empathy that these Deuteronomy verses emphasize.
But it would do us well to study the Torah mitzvot that have to do with repairing the world. My newer Harper Study Bible has a list of “Major Social Concerns in the Covenant” (5). The list is copyrighted, but here are just a few of the scriptures listed there:
Because the Israelites had the centuries-long experience of hardship and distress, they can expression compassion for persons who suffer, who are strangers, and who are otherwise needful of compassion and tangible help.
Compared to the Exodus story, Christians do tend to focus upon God's rescue (salvation) of us through Christ, the water of baptism, the meal of the Lord's supper, and the covenant of Christ, rather than the Passover meal, the escape through the sea, and the Sinai covenant. The phrase “new covenant” is found in Luke 22:20, 1 Cor. 11:25, Heb. 8:6-13, and others.
But God establishes covenants with a demand: that people must be devoted to God, to be holy, to reject things that would distance us from God, to orient ourselves toward God. Holiness, in turn, is not just an individual quality but one that demands justice in society. John Wesley famously declared, “There is no holiness but social holiness.”
Back to the plague story: the plagues led to the Exodus and very quickly to the Covenant, which calls God’s people to faithfulness.
1.A covenant is an agreement. The biblical covenants are between God and his people: God will love and provide for his people, and his people will glorify God with their worship and actions. God is eternally faithful to such covenant agreements, even when we are not. How strongly does the covenant figure in your everyday faith and discipleship?
2.Do you look forward to the Lord’s Supper at your church? Some people do, some How meaningful is it for your faith?